Bojack Horseman Fucked Me Up

I wasn’t ready.

Adult cartoon comedies by nature require audiences to suspend disbelief and numb empathy. In the traditional Simpsons model and even in the modern groundbreaking context of Rick and Morty, absurdity replaces logic and small nuggets of wisdom are generally required to be cut with comic relief. As Will Arnett’s self-destructive character Bojack Horseman has stated himself, in situation comedies, there must always be enough negativity to foster a plot, but enough silver lining to maintain continuity. The epic series portraying the devasting rise and fall of this character, “Bojack Horseman,” however, is the first of its kind in its poignant ability to say whatever the hell it wants, at any given time, whether it be happy, sad, or downright devastating. In a weeklong binge of the full series shortly after season five was premiered on Netflix, and after a hearty share of laughs and cries, I can say in full confidence that Bojack Horseman is a pioneer in its genre. It has set a new standard for animated comedy and is undeniably one of the funniest, most fascinating, and purely heartbreaking works I have ever experienced. Bojack Horseman fucked me up.

Following the existential journey of washed-up celebrity back on the rise, Bojack Horseman follows a depressed and masochistic protagonist who is navigating fame, money, relationships, and happiness in an increasingly bizarre world. The program is recklessly unafraid to ask jarring questions of life, as we watch Bojack ask himself things like “I finally got my dream role. Why don’t I feel anything?” and “Is it too late for me? Will I ever get better?” Despite the variety of absurd and ridiculous events that the show presents and the initially strange concept of a world that is equally inhabited by humans and talking animals, the true core of the plot is continually revolving around the characters looking for answers to these big questions. No matter what you may think this show is about- it’s not about animals, or television stars, or trying to get famous- Bojack Horseman is about figuring out life.

In between moments of crisis and depression, Bojack is littered with nooks and crannies of pop culture gold for any avid television enthusiast. Guest stars and standout performances are in abundance every episode, with stars like Will Arnett, Allison Brie, and Breaking Bad Aaron Paul taking lead roles, along with an impressive list of guests from Lisa Kudro, Issa Rae, Joel McHale, Jessica Biel (As Herself) and Ken Jeong. It is through these veterans of comedy and film alike that Bojack brings content that is, despite contrasting themes of sadness, downright hilarious. The jokes range from lame surface-level puns (See Albino Gynecologist Rhino that’s also a wine addict), to far more ridiculous, most prominently the character that has an orgasm any time there is a slight shift in power dynamics. The humor even strives to tackle larger issues, showing oversized GMO chicken characters, a hippo CEO who has multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, and an orca strip club where all of the employees have floppy dorsal fins. Amidst the countless crushing moments that the work presents, Bojack Horseman is strangely enough still a comedy in practice, as it reaches new heights in seamlessly mending the two extremes cohesively.

It’s truly incredible how an animated cartoon about a washed-up celebrity alcoholic horse can be as powerful as it is hilarious. The continual duality that the series provides is at first alarming, but through effective storytelling and development becomes just that, a story, that is somehow hitting all points of the emotional spectrum and still maintaining a strong sense of authenticity. I at multiple points in viewing found myself confused at how I could feel such real emotions about a cartoon horse that was in a 90’s television sitcom called “Horsin’ Around,” but was quickly enveloped by the intriguing and immersive power of the narrative. Such a complex pull of a show can only truly be felt upon viewing, but I cannot stress enough the ability of Bojack Horseman to be simultaneously excellent in multiple drastically different forms.

I would have never imagined such a bizarre universe to feel so consistently universal. No matter age, preference, or place in one’s life, Bojack has something for everyone, whether it be humor, heartbreak, or wisdom. With one of the most original, unique, articulate, and challenging shows of this century, Bojack Horseman has changed my idea of what television was capable of. Bojack Horseman fucked me up, and I’m so happy that it did.